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Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.19%
Worth A Look39.52%
Average: 14.52%
Pretty Bad: 4.03%
Total Crap: 17.74%

8 reviews, 76 user ratings

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Red Dragon
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by MP Bartley

"Mmm...thirds are better than seconds."
4 stars

That is of course when you're talking about Hopkins' interpretation of our favourite cannibal. After the disapointing 'Hannibal' it was a risky move to bring back Lecter for one more go. Especially risky when it's already been made by Mann and held in high regard. Even more risky when you consider that the guy in charge of Lecters' first outing is Brett Ratner, the man behind such classics as erm...'The Family Man' anyone? But the risk has paid off because 'Red Dragon' is a well above average thriller, that while not equalling 'Silence Of The Lambs' classic status, is comfortably one of the better films of the year.

Comparisons with 'Manhunter' can be endless, and ultimately, pointless so it's better to keep them to a minimum and take it on it's own terms.

'Red Dragon' kicks off with a pre-credit sequence detailing how Lecter was originally captured by FBI agent Will Graham (Ed Norton). It's not an easy capture however and Graham is scarred both mentally and physically to the point of quitting.
Some years later however and a killer dubbed 'The Tooth Fairy' , who turns out to be Francis Dollarhyde (Ralph Fiennes) is hacking his way through suburban families and confounding the authorities. Graham comes out of retirement at the request of his boss Jack Crawford (Harvey Keitel) to help with the capture but it's a case that will require Graham to confront Lecter for his help...

The main attraction for 'Red Dragon' is of course, to see Hopkins back as Lecter and his shadow rightly hangs over the film. This mood is set from the opening sequence which drags the audience into the story and also sets up the relationship between Lecter and Graham that is played out. It's a much more interesting relationship than the Lecter/Starling one which was based on Lecters attraction to Starling, as we have Lecter snarling at the man who put him away. Even Graham admits that Lecter is smarter than him, leading to to some terrific confrontations as Lecter preys on Grahams fears and insecurities. The ebbing fear and hatred between them lend a lot of spice to the cell scenes, which are easily the equal of any in 'Silence...'

It goes without saying that Hopkins is marvellous in the role, as it's his calling card and proves that when it comes to adding menance to the most innocous of words (for 'chianti' and 'goody goody' last time round, add 'oodles'), there's no-one better than him. It's arguable that Lecter has lost a lot of his menace through repetition, but Hopkins still creates a sense of fear simply by looking out at Graham, or the audience.

Ratner, or the source novel to be precise, also shows that Lecter is far more threatening when he's incarcerated and playing mind games with his captors. 'Hannibal' didn't have half as much impact simply because it let Lecter roam all over Europe and only acting when forced to, and not because he's captured. It also works better because like 'Silence...' the story doesn't focus squarely on Lecter. It's about Graham tracking down Dollarhyde, with Lecter smirking in the shadows. 'Hannibal' forget that and stripped away too much of Lecters mystery. Ratner sensibly keeps him to his few unforgettable scenes.

And no dis-respect to anyone in 'Hannibal' but there was simply no-one there to match Hopkins in the acting stakes. Using Norton is a masterstroke as he's the only actor of his generation that could can keep up with Hopkins acting. It's not classic Norton (if you have to compare it to 'Manhunter' ironically it's William Petersen that captures Grahams tortured soul better) but he elevates practically everything he's in and gets across the intelligence of Graham tempered with his fear of Lecter.

Adding Keitel and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (as oily reporter Lounds who ends up in THAT wheelchair) also lends 'Red Dragon' a weight that Ratner sometimes fails to add.

Just behind Hopkins in the acting stakes, and drawing with Norton is Fiennes as Dollarhyde. It's been so long he's had a good role you can be forgiven that Fiennes can be one of the greatest actors around so it's great that he's given the opportunity here. To compare it to 'Manhunter' for the last time, he portrays Dollarhyde in a very different way to Tom Noonans portrayal. Noonans was a very scary creation, almost alien like in his look, but Fiennes adds more than that. He's appropriately terrifying in the right places, but also gives Dollarhyde a more symphatic slant to round and deepen the character. His tentative romance with his blind co-worker (Emily Watson) is naive and touching, as you see the man behind the monster.

With a great cast and a script by 'Silence...' scribe Ted Tally, Ratner has a lot to work with, and so an occassional inabiltity to grasp the material is forgiven. He doesn't do a bad job by any means, 'Red Dragon' is never boring and constantly dark, but the style occassionally veers onto bland. Saying that however, although there's very little gore, Ratner still fills the running time with a sense of danger and urgency with the odd attempt at flair or shock (Dollarhyde's slide show to Lounds of his victims 'changing'). It's to Ratners credit that 'Red Dragon' emerges as an excellent thriller leaving Lecters probable last outing as a tasty finisher.

Did you like 'Silence of the Lambs'? You'll probably like this. Were you dissapointed by 'Hannibal'? You'll be more than satisfied with this. Do you love 'Manhunter'? It's debatable whether this will displace it in your affections. For those of us wanting to be alternately scared and thrilled, it's well worth your time. And it all ends with a great joke for those in the know.

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originally posted: 10/10/02 22:01:44
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User Comments

3/25/18 morris campbell not bad but the book is the best version of this story 3 stars
6/27/14 Monday Morning Biting someone's lips off - definitely will hurt the guy on the dating scene. 4 stars
2/09/14 Captain pooper-scooper. Aww yeaa. U get wit dis, u get wit dat, u get wit dis. Shoots dang! Ting! Is good film! 5 stars
2/08/13 Jeff Wilder Entertaining but pointless. Wathc Manhunter instead. 2 stars
2/10/10 Alex Thorne better than it has every right to be. Fiennes is the highlight here 4 stars
4/24/09 GordonD Dull, lifeless cash-in, made solely to have a trilogy with Hopkins. 2 stars
3/03/08 ladavies I preferred Manhunter. 3 stars
10/15/07 Sandy Sussman Bestest movie I ever Seen 1 stars
8/02/07 Indrid Cold At least Hannibal was fresh and entertaining. This is competent but just a retread of SOTL. 3 stars
6/20/07 Muted Orbz Michael Mannhunter was Lifetime network dull. This was a 360. 5 stars
1/10/07 harry fucking shit 5 stars
12/31/06 del What was wrong with MANHUNTER? Everything - sadly, this IS superior. Deal with it. 4 stars
12/16/06 David Pollastrini good gore. 4 stars
9/22/06 Alyssa Hale Excellent movie! The actors were great! 5 stars
6/22/06 TB Little okay suspense movie 3 stars
4/04/06 Billy Joe Williams Awesome movie. Had to watch it a couple of times but it was great every time. 5 stars
12/26/05 chris truly a masterpeice.... 5 stars
9/25/05 Hotdog Lazy..Desperate..Cash Grubbing...Cynical...Amateurish...Criminal Rehash of a Classic 1 stars
8/18/05 ES Better than silence and hannibal 4 stars
4/26/05 E-FUNK Brett Ratner takes 'Manhunter' and turns it into 'Man-chowder'. Unnecessary and insulting. 1 stars
3/25/05 dwarzel what was wrong with Manhunter? 1 stars
3/07/05 R.W. Welch About as good as Manhunter though it gets pretty hokey towards the end. 4 stars
11/24/04 Steve Newman The Dragon tattoo is fantastic. Great film, well acted, very enjoyable, go watch. 4 stars
11/15/04 zsuzsanna Exciting, wonderfully played. 5 stars
10/01/04 Cannabinoid fallopian tube WICKED!!! (in the best way) 5 stars
4/07/04 Sig This redeems itself from "Hannibal" 5 stars
2/25/04 Dr.Lecter Better than the shallow, lifeless Manhunter in every way 5 stars
2/04/04 LIAM JACKSON ratner's biggest wank-fest to date. manhunter was a classic 1 stars
2/02/04 Samuel norton and hopkins give great performances, but the killer is a skinny guy who isnt scary 4 stars
12/07/03 john an abysmal attempt at a thriller - Michael Mann shot the same story better 20 years ago 1 stars
11/17/03 KING EDWARD bill rooney- i sincerely hope your whole family dies. i hope i can be the one to kill them. 5 stars
9/14/03 the dragon hey daniel p holla- what's with the faggot name? R.D. IS THE BEST. may you die soon, queer. 5 stars
8/28/03 Mr. Hat Great: the movie and the fact that the director of Money Talks & Rush Hour did this. 4 stars
8/19/03 snowconehead I tad bit obligatory, but decent enough to sit through 3 stars
8/14/03 Jeannie Karlsen RALPH FIENNES is my GOD! He is a brilliant actor in an o.k movie. Still bought it though. 4 stars
6/22/03 Daniel P Holla Anyone who thought this movie was watchable should be strung up by their toes 1 stars
6/19/03 gray Fails to affect on any level. Cast, direction, script... all mundane. 2 stars
6/06/03 Charles Tatum Competent direction and cast, but nothing new; better than Hannibal 4 stars
4/04/03 othree equals to Silence, great casting, through, 1st rate Hopkins' Hannibal 4 stars
3/17/03 Paul Coleman Suprisingly boring. See Michael Mann's MANHUNTER instead. 2 stars
2/24/03 the pilgrim my all time favorite- fiennes IS dolorhyde- 'manhunter' be damned!! 5 stars
1/02/03 Elizaveta Gotta love Edward Norton - not as great as "silence" though. 5 stars
12/15/02 David A. Great movie, but Dolarhyde could have grown a mustache! (Dr. Evil would tell me to ZIP IT!) 4 stars
12/12/02 Monster W. Kung Jesus Christ, what's the all-time idiot Sommersby doing in here? Fuck off! 3 stars
11/26/02 malcolm read the book, see Manhunter 3 stars
11/12/02 Phoenix A really good movie with solid performances, although I think Manhunter is better. 5 stars
11/03/02 Obi Wan Don't see why this was such a big deal . .it was slow moving and dull 3 stars
11/02/02 Monster W. Kung Well, I don't find any of the movies with Lecter very impressive. Average (like Silence). 3 stars
11/02/02 Angelo Defanti BEtter than "Manhunter" 5 stars
11/01/02 Shaun I love this movie, so much better then Manhunter 5 stars
10/26/02 j. c. really great and creepy, your attacks were too harsh 5 stars
10/25/02 Jim The Movie Freak Responds Actually you cried when you saw the size of my cock, Choadushouse 1 stars
10/21/02 marzio It's well done, but we did not need it! Mann's Manhunter was better 3 stars
10/18/02 Matthew Smith far superior than Hannibal and Manhunter, one of the year's most enjoyable thrillers 5 stars
10/16/02 .Choadushouse. Jim the Freak sucks my cock. This was good. I cried for love and intensity. 4 stars
10/15/02 Mike This guy is actually a movie reviewer? hes pretty narrow minded... 5 stars
10/14/02 KMG That's ONE FIENNES DICK you have there, Ralph! 5 stars
10/13/02 "Yes the shit." This director should be fucking killed. All the talent involved was raped by this fuck. 1 stars
10/12/02 Xxtreme Really good, way better than hannibal. Almost as good as silence of the lambs 4 stars
10/11/02 Butterbean I agree with Jim that Dolarhyde's character was underdeveloped. But its a great movie! 4 stars
10/10/02 Hawaiiantomboy07 Loved It! It was better than "Manhunter". 5 stars
10/10/02 Melina Great acting and suspense. 5 stars
10/10/02 TimmyTomorrow I thought this was a comedy! 2 stars
10/08/02 Anarchy Azmi jim...please fuck off 4 stars
10/08/02 wintermute Most of the film has thankfully started to fade from my mind. 3 stars
10/07/02 Frankie Ran circles around "Hannibal". Perfect casting! 5 stars
10/06/02 Uncle Salty Well it was better than Hannibal. Then again, the stuff in the waffle on my shoe was too. 3 stars
10/06/02 Topplebot Surprisingly not a hack piece of shit. Norton's great, story's good, Fiennes delivers again 5 stars
10/06/02 ajay very nice. 5 stars
10/06/02 Mike One of the best films so far this year. 5 stars
10/06/02 Roy Smith A great movie with a fantastic opening and a great ending! 4 stars
10/06/02 Nicole So much better than Hannibal. Everything a GOOD psychological thriller should be. 4 stars
10/05/02 jarrod_101 True to the awesome book. a bit slow moving but still very very good. 5 stars
10/05/02 Buddha Are you nuts? Hannibal sucked like a Hoover. Thankfully, this didn't. 5 stars
10/05/02 ryan phillippe gets hit by a car and it rules Hannibal didn't suck, and I hope when you say the origional you don't mean Manhunter. 5 stars
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  04-Oct-2002 (R)



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